Did Donald Trump really refuse to shake Angela Merkel's hand during White House meeting?

Matilda Long

Why are we asking this?

Donald Trump has been accused of refusing to shake hands with Angela Merkel following a meeting at The White House.

During a seemingly awkward photo op, reporters suggested to the German Chancellor and the President that they shake hands.

Trump and Merkel failed to respond to the request, remaining seated in their chairs with their hands in their laps.


But did either refuse to shake hands?

Whilst neither Merkel nor Trump initiated a handshake, it’s unclear whether they refused to do so, or even heard the suggestion.

Moments later, the footage then shows Trump placing a hand on Merkel’s arm in a seemingly friendly gesture.

The meeting was their first personal encounter since Trump’s frequent criticism of Merkel during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Their agenda included discussions on strengthening Nato and fighting the threat of Isis.

Mr Trump told reporters merely that he and Ms Merkel would be discussing “many things” in their first face-to-face exchange of his presidency.

Mr Trump’s campaign trail was littered with references to Ms Merkel, accusing her of “ruining” Germany for allowing an influx of refugees from Syria.

“You watch what happens to Angela Merkel, who I always thought of as a very good leader until she did this. I don’t know what went wrong with her,” said then-candidate Mr Trump at an August rally in Virginia.

“What went wrong? Angela, what happened?”

He accused his campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, of wanting to be “America’s Angela Merkel”.

He also lashed out at Time magazine when it named Ms Merkel “Person of the Year” in 2015 instead of him.

In his meetings with world leaders since the inauguration, President Trump has adopted a more diplomatic public persona.

He recently spent a weekend bonding with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, golfing and dining with Mr Abe at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

He has cultivated a closer friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he has known for years.

Ms Merkel has stressed a need for stability after Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
President Trump has rattled European leaders with his “America first” mantra. He also backed Brexit and is sceptical of multilateral trade agreements.

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